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The Long Red Line

 

Young men of Melrose have been giving their best on the gridiron for more than a full century. The common thread between Red Raiders of the past and present is known in Melrose as "The Long Red Line." It has been a rich and loyal tradition passed on through generations. On the first Saturday of December the unbeaten 2019 Melrose football team made the trip to Gillette Stadium and captured its second Super Bowl title in the past three years to finish a perfect 12-0. Captain Sean Herbert is still beaming. "It's been awesome, the feeling never gets old and I'm still enjoying it. I bet I've watched it fiver or six times." The Red Raiders averaged nearly forty points per game. They are a no frills just "do your job" type of team than can beat you in so many ways - that's The Melrose Way.

"It's the culture here," adds Bill Pesce who lost his dad earlier in 2019. "It's a winning culture, we do it the same way year in and year out and it goes to show." "We are a family," said Jared Karelas. "That's all you can ask for. We love each other, play every down for each other. It's that simple." There are no names on the backs of their jerseys, no decals on their helmets. The only numbers that matter are the digits on the scoreboard EXCEPT one number that will live on in perpetuity. The number 17 worn by Ray Rocha in the late 1980's is mounted on the outside wall of the Melrose Middle School. It overlooks the Melrose Football Stadium.

Ray Rocha was in one of the twin towers on September 11th. Ray Rocha will always be a Red Raider. "After 9/11 we knew Ray was gone so we decided to retire his number 17 and put it up there," head coach Tim Morris told me. "I coached Ray and each season around September 11th I pull out this grainy tape of Ray playing and show it to the team. They are all amazed at his play. Ray had game." "We always keep The Long Red Line with us," said captain Chris Cosolito. "All the alums who played, especially Ray Rocha - we always keep them in our heart." Tim Morris grew more emotional as he continued to talk about Ray Rocha. " I tell the kids we have basically been at war since 9/11 and one of the first casualties of that war was one of our own. We talk about the Long Red Line of guys that played for Melrose and Ray is certainly front and center." Their Super Bowl win was for Ray and other members of The Long Red Line. That's the Melrose way - now and always!